Extension office programs performed well in 2021, despite the pandemic

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  • The Ohio State University Coshocton County Extension Office recently submitted its annual report.
  • For family and consumer sciences, financial literacy programs were among the most important with community impact.
  • For agriculture, the most important program consisted of beef quality assurance courses involving 138 producers.
  • 4-H returned to a fairly normal Coshocton County Fair post-pandemic with livestock auction proceeds up $91,000 from 2020.

COSHOCTON — The Coshocton County Ohio State Extension Office continued to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Representatives from the local office recently presented year-end reports to Coshocton County Commissioners regarding agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H.

Family and Consumer Sciences

Emily Marrison is a family and consumer science educator. She leads programs related to health and wellness, food safety, home food storage, food commerce, co-parenting and relationship communication. Some specific classes included Dining with Diabetes, Generation Rx on medication safety, and home food storage like canning.

Emily mentioned her biggest programs that are receiving the most interest from the community related to financial literacy. This includes financial coaching, homebuyer education and Real money, real world, a financial education program for second-year high school students. She will present the program Feb. 14-17 at River View High School, Feb. 28-March 4 at Coshocton County Career Center and May 2-6 at Coshocton High School. Dates for Ridgewood High School are to be determined.

Emily Adams, family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Coshocton County Extension, talks to students at the Coshocton County Career Center about budgets and assessing needs versus wants as part of the Real Money program, Real World.

Emily also provided financial coaching to one person in 2021 over five sessions. Coaching involves empowerment and helping to set personal and family financial goals. She has one person so far this year.

“I think that’s something that more and more of our agency partners are realizing. They’re trying to refer people. Just having that responsibility and having someone by their side is helpful” , said Emily.

Emily also became a HUD Certified Housing Counselor last year. OSU Extension contracts with the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for one-hour phone consultations before a home closes. Since August, Emily has made 14 calls with homebuyers in Coshocton, Licking and Muskingum counties.

“It’s a good way to talk to someone about having a house. Do you think about maintenance costs, your budget; I think it’s a good reminder of what people need to do with their finances when it comes to being a new homeowner,” Emilie said.

David Marrison of the Coshocton County OSU Extension filming a 2020 corn production video. Due to the pandemic, the office has done more local videos and virtual classes.  In 2021, many courses and workshops have returned in person.

Agriculture and natural resources

Agriculture and natural resources educator David Marrison said his biggest program is beef quality assurance with 138 beef and dairy producers renewing their certifications at 10 shops in 2021. The surveys had almost all participants indicating that the workshops had increased their understanding of the topic.

David said the regulations changed about four years ago so anyone selling to large packhouses through auctions had to have proper certification. David said recertification is required every three years, similar to pesticide applicators. About 150 will go through the beef quality assurance program this year.

David said beef is the largest sector of the agriculture industry in Coshocton County, in terms of the number of farms raising a specific commodity. Most are sold at auction houses, but some go directly to consumers, he said.

“As far as educational programs go, this will be our biggest program area here going forward,” David said of the quality assurance program. “If we can generate more revenue for our producers because they are better trained, then that’s our endgame to improve their farming practices.”

Among the research projects, the most important last year was related to the fall armyworm at the end of the summer. Although the caterpillar was not uncommon in the region, there was a level of infestation seen only about every 30 years. Monitoring traps were placed at three local farms and checked weekly. A total of 1,617 moths were trapped.

David said he knew a farmer who left for the weekend for a wedding and returned to his farm to find a whole field of alfalfa gone.

“It’s one of the coolest creatures you’ll ever see, but one of the most damaging creatures you’ll ever see,” he added. “There was a perfect weather front that blew them up here at the right time they stopped. Next thing you knew we had these hoppers eating across the fields.”

Emma Ward shows off a llama during the showman of showmen contest at the 2021 Coshocton County Fair.

4-H

For 4-H, the highlight of the year was the return to a somewhat standard Coshocton County Fair. In 2020 a limited fair was held with restricted animal shows and an online livestock auction. The 2021 in-person auction raised $439,000 with an additional $28,000 in online add-ons. This is an increase of $91,000 over the previous year.

4-H educator Jenny Strickler said they are still doing several things virtually, like quality assurance. There were 14 zoom sessions for nearly 400 4-H and FFA youth related to the livestock show at the fair.

“There were still a lot of changes happening in our world, trying to come up with some of these changes to do everything and try to achieve a more normal year last year,” Strickler said.

4-H camp returned, but there were limits on campers in cabins and groups. Coshocton County had 121 youth participating in activities at Camp Ohio.

“The children learned a lot of new things because they were forced to participate in many sessions that they might not have chosen in a normal year. I think they generally enjoyed it and I got a lot of great feedback,” Strickler said.

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@llhayhurst

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